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Luke xxii. 42.
Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me, nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done,
A SUBMISSION to the divine will, in
the various distresses and troubles of human life, is one of the most difficult, and yet at the same time one of the most necessary, duties of our holy religion ; either, as it is the most convincing proof of our trust and confidence in God's goodness, or as it is the best foundation of that
peace and tranquillity of mind, which is the true and only source of joy and happiness. And indeed in general we Vol. IV, R
find mankind ready enough to own, when not under the immediate pressure of any calamity; when they are surrounded with prosperity, and in no danger of a storm breaking upon them; that as the creatures and dependents of an all-wise and powerful Being, they are under an obligation to resign themselves to God's disposal; that, in whatever manner he pleases to regulate the affairs of this lower world, their duty is resignation to his will; as knowing that he ruleth over all, and that he can do what he pleases in the armies of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth. But, God knows, this is too often only the language of the happy and fortunate. For, change the scene, and sec the same persons under affliction, surrounded with a multitude of sorrows, smarting under pain, reduced to want and poverty, tenderly affected with the loss, or, what is more grievous, with the unkindness and treachery of friends then is the great trial of submission, then is the hard struggle betwixt duty and the sense of what they feel. And if a man under these circumstances, can maintain
the same resigned temper of mind, the same calm and even disposition ; if he can chearfully look up to the God, whose hand is heavy upon him, and possess his soul in patience; bearing his afflictions, as the corrections of a father, without murinuring and complaining; he has then attained to the highest perfection of duty, and has learned the true and only way of deriving comfort and real blessings from the multitude of his sorrows.
The duty therefore I propose to treat of at present is that of submission to the divine will : a duty which can never at any time want arguments to recommend it, when we consider the many advantages naturally arising from the exercise of this Christian grace; but, at this season, is more particularly enforced upon us by the example of the most perfect submission in the blessed Jesus; who, under the dreadful apprehensions of what he was then going to suffer, and whilst his soul was: exceeding sorrowful even unto death, and he prayed to his Father, that if he were willing, he would remove the, bitter R2
cup from him, still maintained a most entire resignation to the divine will and pleasure, and made it the conclusion of his prayer, and the restriction of all his petitions, “ Not my will, but thine, be 66 done."
That we may improve by so perfect an example, it may not be improper to consider it with regard to the several particular circumstances, which recommend it to our imitation as the highest instance of submission to the divine will ; and then to subjoin the many advantages arising from this duty, as arguments and motives to the practice of it. Now, if we cons sider the life of the blessed Jesus from his first appearance in the world, we may justly observe, that he strictly fulfilled the emphatic prediction of the prophet Isaiah, who, in the midst of all the glorious things which lie foretold of his future kingdom, expressly calls him, " a man of sorrows, " and acquainted with grief." For surely never any one was expused to greater and severer trials, never any one bore them with such a calm and perfect resignation.
He came into the world in a mean and low condition, exposed to want and poverty; himself complaining, that “ the 4 foxes have holes, and the birds of the 66 air have nests, but the Son of Man “ hath not where to lay his head." His person was treated with scorn and contempt, and his actions were basely misrepresented. Even that unwearied beneâcence, with which he went about doing good to the souls and bodies of men, had no other effect than to expose him to the blander and insolence, the malice and rancour of his enemies. If in great compassion and tenderness of soul he saith to the sick of the palsy, s Son, be of good “ cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee," he 'is immediately called a blasphemer. If at any time, as the great friend and benefactor of mankind, lie exerts himself in miracles of mercy and compassion, by a word healing their diseases and restoring men possessed to a right mind, instead of their grateful acknowledgments for such adorable instances of power and goodness, they give him no better character than that of a sorcerer, casting out devils by RS